tv Andrea Mitchell Reports MSNBC August 25, 2009 1:00pm-2:00pm EDT
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abuse cases against cia interrogators. career prosecutor john durham will lead the investigation. he is already looking into the destruction of cia interrogation tapes back in 2005. that under order of the bush white house. former vice president cheney says that the decision is politically motivated and that those responsible for the interrogation deserve our gratitude, not to be targets of what he calls political investigations or prosecutions. stocks are rallying today after president obama nominated ben bernanke for his second term as federal reserve chair. but the white house and congressional budget office is both warning today that the long-term deficit will be worse than expected, hitting $9 trillion in ten years. that's $2 trillion more than the white house had estimated in may. a report from a top u.s.
economist coming up. and british prime minister gordon brown today speaking out for the first time about the hero's reception given top lockerbie bomber back home in libya. good day. i'm driandrea mitchell in washington. late last night, we received an e-mail from former vice president dick cheney, striking back hard against the obama administration's decisions. david ignatius, associate editor and columnist for "the washington post" and intelligence expert and nbc's own justice correspondent pete williams along with nbc news white house correspondent, savannah guthrie in new york joining us to talk about all of this, picking this apart. first of all to you, david, let's talk about the impact on the cia, taken out of the central role for detention and interrogation. some would say that that is a good thing, because it was nothing but a burden, but it really is a diminishing of the agency. >> talking to people at the cia yesterday and today, andrea, i heard nothing but relief that they're out from under what has been really a nightmare responsibility.
going into this interrogation program, a lot of officers had doubts. they suspected this would come back and bite them politically. it has. they're unhappy about being left holding the bag, if you will. but i don't think anybody's unhappy to see this responsibility move away now to the fbi. >> but, what about the fact that they are reopening some of these cases, which could lead to prosecutions. they had been told by career justice department lawyers that they were cleared and now it is being reopened on recommendation of the ethics office. >> people are very upset. i just have to say, they're pretty cynical bunch at langley and they knew this was going to happen. they were assured, don't worry, here's legal guidance, stay within the guidance, everything will be fine. they doubted that that was true. all these cases that have now been a part of eric holder's decision were reviewed in 2004 by career prosecutors in alexandria. they decided not to prosecute then. holder has, in effect, reopened
these cases for a second look. i have to say, cia officers basically saw it coming. >> they saw it coming. i want to ask you, pete williams, about the decisions by er eric holder. but first, on the politics of this, and the fact that the president is saying, it's up to eric holder, he seems to be trying to run away from it. savannah guthrie, as a white house correspondent, you're watching the president say, it's eric holder's decision, it's not my decision, i want to look forward, i don't want to look back, but i'm hearing a lot from cia former and current people saying, he's trying to have it both ways. >> well, it's very interesting. i think it's one of the more perplexing issues that comes up with this. on one hand, you do have him saying, let's look forward, let's not go back. and yet to be so deferential to eric holder, such that eric holder can essentially go against that and recommend that there be at least a preliminary inquiry, you wonder what's going on here. and it's another one of those occasion where is it seems the president has struck this middle ground. so maybe it's a solomon-like
decision, but now he's got a two-front war. on the one hand, some progressives who thinks this does not go near far enough. that there should be a special investigation, they should look at bush officials, look at the lawyers with, so on and so forth. and people on the other side who say, wait a minute, you're hanging cia operatives out to dry when all they were doing is following legal guidance. so once again, the president in a real difficult situation. >> pete, how does eric holder justify the decision to reopen cases that have been looked at by career prosecutors? >> first of all, i think it's worth pointing out that while we talk about the politics here, it would be doubly trouble if the president said to eric holder, don't investigate that. or if eric holder said, you know, i want to investigate this, but the president doesn't want me to. so we want our attorneys general to be independent of the president. what eric holder says, i am not going to prosecute any contractors who followed the rules or even strayed a little bit beyond them in good faith. what he says is, i have looked at this report, have seen the
classified parts that we haven't seen yet, about ten cases in all that he believes goes so far beyond the rules and so far beyond the pail and appear to be illegal that he has to ask this special prosecutor to look at them again and see if anything could have changed. >> what could have changed, other than a different set of eyes, a different filter. the election took place. the attorney general watching and looking at this and reading it is a democrat who has a different attitude towards interrogation policy than his predecessor. >> i think that's a fair question. i think two things. one is that the prosecutor who has to look at this, john durham from connecticut, is already knee deep into the cia interrogation program, because he was asked to look at the destruction of cia videos of some of these interrogations. so the theory is, you know, he's more up on the cases, potentially. he knows the territory a little better. secondly, i think justice is under no illusion that this is going to be very hard to bring even a couple of cases.
but time has elapsed, it's even longer now than it was before. witnesses may be harder to find, bodies may be hard to recover. so i think they realize this is going to be tough to make any questions. >> there was a question raised by the former vice president, david. how do we know -- how do we know whether these techniques worked? were they effective? were they not effective? the inspector general of cia report is ambiguous on this point. the cheney memos seems to say that there was good information on contained from khalid sheikh mohammed. >> reading through the material that was released yesterday, the ambiguity you're describing was really striking. so-called cheney memos seemed to say that an enormous amount, more than half of the intelligence about al qaeda in 2004 was generated by these enhanced interrogation techniques. would it have been generated some other way? we just don't know.
what bothers me with cheney jumping in is, again, to have this issue so politicized. i mean, somehow, there's got to be coming out of this a common ground. maybe moving all of this away from the cia into a new justice department nfc format will finally change this, so it's less of a political football. >> but, again, from some of the redactions, the blacked out sections, it seems that at least from some information that i've had and i'm assure that you have as well, that some of the information was obtained by electronic eavesdropping, by signals intelligence. it wasn't all from this kind of -- >> but what comes through in this document is that you're playing many different sources of information back against the -- >> and testing it and -- >> you get something, run it by the person, some other detainee tells you something and a lot just sort of falls out that way. but we'll never know the details. >> we have to leave it there. david ignatius, pete williams, and savannah guthrie in new york, thank you so much.
today, president obama nominated ben bernanke for another term as chairman of the federal reserve. this as the white house says the federal deficit will soar to nearly $1.6 trillion this year. the highest since world war ii. austan goolsbee joining us now, chief economist for the president's economic recovery advisory board. and joining us there from the white house. let's talk about this midyear review, austan. good to see you. the office of management and budget is estimating that the 2009 budget deficit will be $1.6 trillion, $1.58 trillion. that is somewhat less than officials had predicted, but your long-term deficit analysis is a good deal worse. >> yeah. look, the basis of the long-term forecast getting worse is that the economic growth assumptions have been worse than were anticipated and that tends to bear out for several years in the data. that's why the longer run number is bigger than it was. and in the short run, the number's actually a fair bit smaller than previously
projected, more than $250 billion less. and that's because they did not require as much money for financial rescue as originally they thought and some of the companies have started paying the money back. so that part is good news. >> what about the cbo forecast as well? they have a slightly smaller deficit, long-term deficit, but they say that something is going to have to be done on the revenue side, that their projections, because of health care, the ageing of the population, that we are facing some real problems down the road. do you disagree with that? >> what i would say is, if you go back a couple of years and look at the long-term forecasts from a period when the economy is doing well, they look much, much different than they do right now. and if you ask, what has changed in the forecast over the last couple of years, it's obvious the main thing driving that has been a dramatic deterioration of the economy. so i think before anybody starts concluding exactly what policy moves are necessary, we got to
make sure we're getting out of this deep recession and we're on a road to recovery, because that obviously makes a huge impact on the long-term projections. >> where do you see the recovery now and how is, in looking at your midyear review, what is your forecast about, what most people really care about, which is unemployment? >> yeah, i try -- as you know, andrea, i try to stay out of the forecasting business myself. as i look at the private forecasters, i have no reason to doubt what seems to be the general consensus, that the economy starts turning around third quarter, fourth quarter of this year. everybody also knows that the job market tends to lag that. you've got to turn the economy around first and get it growing before you start seeing any significant job growth. so it's going to be a tough slog in the job market. you know, we've seen some heartening signs that job loss has slowed dramatically from when the president came into office, but i think it's going
to be a pretty substantial period before you start seeing significant job growth. >> and with all of this on your plate, no progress at all, that any of us can determine, on the health care front. in fact, it seems that in this august, instead of a lull, it seems that we've had an escalation of hostilities among the various players. at this stage, do you think you'll have to end up go it alone without a bipartisan health care bill? >> well, look, let's remember, everyone in congress is on vacation. so i think the standard by which we evaluate what has been getting done ought to be changed, at least, a little bit, because nobody's voting on anything. i think the president's outlined an overview of where he wants health reform to go, that we want to reduce costs, get people covered, get rid of the pre-existing condition kind of rules of insurance companies and reform the health system. i think we're on path to do
that. there have been some vocal town hall meetings that made the news, i think what doesn't make the news as much is the fact that everywhere congress, the president, the policy people like myself, wherever we go, there are a lot, a lot of people who are just concerned about the issues. they aren't the ones yelling for the camera. they're really concerned and they want fundamental health reform. and i think that, in the end, is going to prevail. i look forward to the fall, because i think in pretty soon order, they'll get something. >> and you think that this september 15th deadline still holds, that either there is a deal, some form of an outline of a deal by september 15th or else go it alone, and even proceed as some have suggested, over the last couple of days, by reconciliation, ignoring the 60 votes and just trying to get a bear 51? >> as anyone will tell you, i'm far from an expert on legislative process, so i don't really know the answer to that. i'm just the policy guy. i think if you step back and look at the fundamentals, there
is the chance of the general consensus now, unlike any moment we've had in a very long time, to actually get something done. you've had some private sector people coming to the white house and saying that they want to be part of the solution. you've got a lot of members of congress and they may argue about details, it may take a little time to work that out, but i have every anticipation they're going to get something. >> well, you may just be a policy guy, just a policy guy, but austan, you're the most optimistic i've talked to in a listening time. always great to talk to you. >> great to talk to you, andrea. and a deadly milestone today in afghanistan. four american troops were killed there today, making august the second deadliest month, and 2009, already the deadliest year for u.s. troops since the war began. the four u.s. service members killed today by a roadside bomb while in patrol in the southern part of afghanistan. it happened just outside of kandahar, where a separate explosion rocked that city. officials say five car bombs
strung together caused that blast, reportedly killing at least 30 people in kandahar. and straight ahead, dire predictions about swine flu. the white house says more than 1 million people will be infected. homeland security secretary janet napolitano joining us next to talk about how the government is preparing for this threat. this is "andrea mitchell reports," only on msnbc. bicycle, what are we waiting for? the flowers are blooming. the air is sweet. and zyrtec® starts... relieving my allergies... 2 hours faster than claritin®. my worst symptoms feel better, indoors and outdoors. with zyrtec®, the fastest... 24-hour allergy medicine, i promise not to wait as long to go for our ride zyrtec® works fast, so i can love the air™.
the government has a new warning on the h1n1 swine flu. the white house advisory board warning of wide-scale infection in this flu season with half the nation expected to get sick. as many as 90,000 americans could actually die from the strain, with nearly 2 million people hospitalized. so here with us now, u.s. homeland security secretary janet napolitano. thank you so much, madame secretary, for joining us.
what can be done, what is being done to protect against the infection? >> well, a lot of things. and it begins with individuals, the simple things, the washing of the hands, the coughing in your sleeve, staying home if you're sick, keeping your child home if your child is sick. we're working a lot with businesses and with other government agencies at all deferent levels in terms of their preparations, preparing for absenteeism. because in all likelihood, we're going to see a lot of flu before the vaccine becomes available. >> and we have the normal seasonal flu as well, to contend with. how do people know what they're facing when they have a child who gets sick or a spouse or a partner. how do you know what to identify? >> well, the actual diagnosis, obviously, is made by the medical professionals. but in general, school kids are going to be getting the h1n1 flu. older people will be getting seasonal flu. that's a rough approximation.
so we're encouraging everyone to get there as soon as that vaccine is available, get the seasonal flu vaccine. why? because, we'd like that stress off the health care system before we really get into the h1n1 vaccine cycle. >> now, i wanted to talk about the border as well, just another one of your areas, the drug war we see in juarez. gunmen today, ambushing a vehicle, carrying guns, killing one and wounding two. how would you address the drug wars we haven't paid that much attention to outside of your area? >> the media hasn't, but i think we've been spending an awful lot of time on the border. >> are you making any progress? >> i think progress is being made. i think mexico is making headway against some of these cartels. but make no mistake. this is a marathon, not a sprint. these cartels have been ingrained far long time and we're just going to -- we're digging in with the government of mexico and going after them.
>> is the government of mexico able to win this battle? they have really faced some terrible setbacks, starting with swine flu and the exacerbations that led to political problems in their -- >> and the recession, yeah. >> and the recession. right. >> it's been a tough time in mexico, but what impressed me in guadalajara, when i was there with president obama and president calderon was both leaders and their joint determination. and i think an important point to make is that having mexico go to the south and working with them on some of their issues actually helps our own homeland security. these cartels have fingers, literally, that grow into hundreds of our communities. so we have a joint interest here in making sure that border area is safe and secure and that mexico wins this fight.
>> i wanted to ask you about one of your, what he inferred to be pressure before the election, to raise the alert level, but he thought there was pressure to raise the terror threat for political purposes. have you picked up on any of that within your agency? is there a politicization that you have to ward off when it comes to these really important national security issues? >> right. no, not at all. but, interestingly, and just as a coincidence, before secretary ridge's publication was announced, i had already formed a task force cochaired by president bush's national security adviser to look at the whole color code terrorist system. we've had it nor a number of years, should we keep it, throw it out, amend it? >> what does your gut tell you? >> my gut tells me it needs a
fresh look. and i've been careful not to tell this task force what to do. other countries are doing other things, but i think it's fair to say that the color coding system in general needs a fresh look. >> now, i know that the justice department is the lead on, of course, what's happening with the cia and all of that. but at the same time, cia morale and the fact that fact that cia officers are saying they're going to be reluctant to go after terrorists because of this reopening of cases against them. does that cause you concern? you're responsible for homeland security. and you've got an agency that's supposed to be dedicated to going after bad guys who are now, many of them are saying, you know, we're going to be very cautious. >> well, first, that is the number one mission of our agency, which is the battle against terrorism. secondly, i don't know what a few cia agents are saying, but i will tell you, i think the agency as a whole remains firmly and strongly dedicated to this mission. beyond that, i don't want to comment on what the justice
department is doing vis-a-vis -- >> let me ask you whether you agree with what the vice president, the former vice president, dick cheney, said that he thought that these were political steps, political prosecutions and he feels that the obama administration has now proved that it cannot secure national security, that it cannot be trusted on national security because it is going after these interrogators. at least respond to that charge, that our national security is compromised by some of the decisions that have now been made. >> well, i just disagree with the former vice president on so many things, so i'll just add that to my list. but that process will be under way. it will be led by the justice department. but the cia's mission remains in tact and i think that the energy and the perseverance of the agency toward that mission and our agency toward that mission remains in tact as well. >> and do you think that terrorists can be properly
interrogated without using these so-called enhanced interrogation techniques? do you think those techniques work? >> well, there's a lot of science on interrogation now, and again, that will be found out, in part, by this inquiry. >> is it an obtainable fact, to figure out whether something worked or didn't work? >> i don't know the answer to that. here's what i do know the answer to. what i do know the answer to is that the department of homeland security is focused on our nation's safety. that we work with the cia, the fbi, the nsa, the dni, we work with a number of agencies on that. the men and women in those agencies are very dedicated to that mission and they remain so. >> thank you very much, janet napolitano. you've got a lot on your plate. thanks for taking time for us today. >> you bet. and coming up, north korea issues another invitation for nuclear talks with the united states, but the white house says that it is staying with multi-party, six-party talks. that strategy to be reviewed,
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new! nutrisystem d. lose weight. live better. call or click today. new reports today from south korea that the north koreans want top u.s. diplomats to come to pyongyang for nuclear negotiations. the state department continues to say that the north must first agree to six-party talks before the u.s. will enter bilateral negotiations. former secretary of state madeleine albright is co-chairman of the albright stonebridge group and has just returned from south korea. you led the u.s. delegation attending former south korean president's kim di-young's funeral. glad you're back. there were north koreans who did go to seoul and met, in fact, with the south korean president. what are you picking up as to
the state of relations and what the north koreans really want from us. >> it was very interesting that they did come to pay their respects. they were not at the actual funeral where i was, but they had had a meeting with president lee of south korea just before we had our meeting. and the fact that they had a meeting with him was viewed as significant, because they had basically been ignoring him, and in fact, being quite rude to him. and they were interested in talking about north/south issues, which are, obviously, also very important. and kind of a sense that they wanted a different atmosphere. but, of course, as you pointed out, the united states is continuing to insist that whatever talks take place be done within a multilateral setting. >> did anyone reach out to you or were you carrying any messages in any way? did you have any contact at all, because you had been to pyongyang, and somewhat of a
hero there, having gone there and warmed up relations before the bush administration changed relations. >> i'm no hero, but i was there at a good time for meetings. this was not the kind of occasion where this kind of a meeting would have taken place. they, the north korean delegation, in fact, left just after they saw president lee, so we had no contact with them. and i was not carrying any messages. >> let me ask you about lockerbie, because today we had, for the first time, at least some statements, strong statements of anger and regret, repulsion from gordon brown in the uk about the hero's reception given to the lockerbie bomber. you lived through all of that. and i'm struck by what we saw in tripoli, how they ignored advice from the united states and from great britain to give a very low-key reception to him. and that led, inevitably, especially because of what gadhafi and his son said, to charges that there were trade
deals between the brits and the libyans. where do we go from here? >> well, i think that this whole event is very, very unfortunate. i was involved, a lot, in the whole lockerbie issue. i met with the families many, many times, both when i was at the united nations and then a secretary. we did push for there to be a trial. and we believed that, in fact, he had been sentenced appropriately. i thought it was pretty outrageous, not only the release, but also the whole welcoming ceremony, when especially it had been indicated by the united states that it was not a good idea. i think we have to take the british and the scotts at their word that there were no deals. the issue, itself, is most unfortunate, because so many americans and other nationals died in that terrible, terrible accident. so my heart goes out to the lockerbie families. >> do you think we should take a different attitude towards
gadhafi. he's coming to new york, to the u.n. in december. should we step back a little bit from these new, newly warmed relations? >> well, i think it was very important to bring libya kind of back into the circle of acceptable countries we now have diplomatic -- we have an embassy there. and libya is going to chair the general assembly. so it's a little bit difficult. i think that we have to follow very carefully how these events lay out, but keep stating and restating that this is an inappropriate way to treat somebody that is responsible for the murder of so many people. >> i wanted to ask you about what richard cheney, what the former vice president has said, late last night, he sent an e-mail out and he is accusing the obama administration of basically making -- of not being reliable on national security, because of the decisions that were made to go after, potentially go after some of these former or current cia
interrogators. do you agree with those who are criticizing this change of heart by the administration to not just look forward, but to look past and to reopen some of these cases? >> no, i agree with the administration. and i also -- former vice president cheney's behavior in the last years has been so unpredictable, and i think in many ways, his statements in these days are kind of pathetic. i think he should know that the obama administration is doing everything to keep america secure. that is the major job of the president of the united states and his appointees and i feel very confident that that is taking place. >> do you think there's any way to evaluate whether or not these enhanced techniques worked or didn't work? how will we ever know whether we could have gotten something without using these pressure techniques, what many say were torture on these detainees? >> well, i'm not an expert on
that, but you know somebody who is? senator mccain has made clear that he thought that these kind of torture techniques do not work and people who have followed this have said that they don't work. and i think that we do not need to get ourselves all involved again in the fear factor. i think that we need to know that president obama and his team are doing everything they can to keep america secure, but also, to operate in a way that is reflective of america's values and our respect for the rule of law. >> madeleine albright, madame secretary, chair of albright stonebridge group, thank you very much. great to be with you, andrea. thank you. still to come this hour on msnbc, senator arlen specter weighing in on the cia torture investigation. he's a former senate intelligence chairman. plus, new calls for a time line for u.s. forces to pull out of afghanistan. "washington post" chief foreign correspondent, jim hoagland joining us next, live on "andrea mitchell reports."
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2009 is now the deadliest year for coalition forces in afghanistan. we have just had 295 killed and it is only august. now one senate democrat is calling on the president to announce a timetable for withdrawal. the jim hoagland is a columnist and associate editor and chief foreign correspondent with "the washington post." jim, thank you so much. good to see you. this is a very, very bad road right now in afghanistan. we're seeing increased violence, disputed election results, potentially. this is what richard haas, the council of foreign relations president had to say in a column the other day. that "if afghanistan were a war of necessity, it would justify any level of effort. it is not and does not. there needs to be a limit of what the united states does in afghanistan and how long it is
prepared to do, lest we find ourselves unable to contend with other wars of choice and of necessity if and when they arrive," playing off the title of his book. but what is the mission statement for afghanistan, the time line? do you think the administration has given a coherent view so the american people understand what we are doing there and how long it will take. >> it's a very difficult appropriation to explain a very complex situation like afghanistan, but i think the administration has made an effort. the president decided to dispatch 21,000 more american troops. he's also made it very clear that he has in mind giving the effort another year, see if this increase in troops change in tactics shows results. if it does not, he has promised to reassess where we are in afghanistan. so there is a short time line that he has laid out to try to see exactly what can be done and
then to look at how long it will take, how much it will cost, and whether or not that is in our national interest. it's one of the hardest problems that i've ever had to wrestle with and i think that any of the politicians and policy makers who are wrestling with it have had to do. there is not a simple, quick answer. the mission clearly is to prevent al qaeda and its associates in terror from reforming in afghanistan and using afghanistan as a base for attacks on the united states and on our allies. how far beyond that you can go in terms of nation building is not very clear and the president has not been clear on that point. i think there is a scaling down of the mission to much more realistic, achievable goals. >> you raise a question in a column in the sunday "washington post" that nicolas sarkozy, after the g-20, said about
barack obama, "is he weak?" and this is a strange question, you acknowledge, to be asking about someone who fought so hard, so well, and in such a disciplined fashion for the presidency. but you wrote, "is obama making tactical retreats on these hard issues or is he weak? his soaring rhetorical promises when he to adjust means, goals, or both." interesting in the context of what we've now seen with the cia, where he hands it over to the attorney general to go after some of these interrogators, but says, that's not my job, it's up to eric holder, yet i want to look forward, not back. is he trying to have it both ways? >> the "financial times" editorialized last week that characteristically, obama's trying to have it both ways. that was on the question of health care reform, but as you pointed out, it could also apply
to the cia scandals that he's had to deal with. again, i think this president has a little less room to maneuver because of the rhetoric that he used to win the presidency. because of his appeals to morality and his promises to bring change we can believe in. people are saying, yes, but where is the leadership you promised as well? he's coming up against some tough, tough issues here in the fall with the middle east peace effort that he's launched running into trouble. as you point out, with afghanistan seeming to urn from an insurgency into almost an insurrection. so we're going to get a very much clearer picture of whether or not this president is committed on certain fundamental points or whether he has a practice of making tactical retreats. >> fascinating time. it's going to be a very interesting fall. jim hoagland, thank you for guiding us through it.
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both the house and senate judiciary committees are still pushing for an independent truth commission to look into controversial cia interrogation practices, those we've been talking about, that have just been revealed, in addition to the justice department's inquiry. joining us now from philadelphia, senator arlen specter, a former chairman of the senate intelligence committee and, of course, a continuing member of the judiciary committee. senator, thank you very much. welcome. >> glad to be with you. thank you. >> first of all, let me ask you about the former vice president used to be a republican, so i can ask you about a republican statement. former vice president dick cheney released a statement late tonight saying that the documents that have been released clearly demonstrate
that the individual subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al qaeda. the intelligence saved lives and prevented terror attacks. these detainees, according to the documents, plaid a role in nearly every capture of al qaeda members and associated since 2002. and he goes on to say that the people at the cia deserve our gratitude, they do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. do you think that's a fair charge against what eric holder is doing? >> there has not been sufficient specification to formulate a judgment as to whether the enhanced interrogation techniques produced all those good results or not. i think it would be very useful to the stent it can extent it c consistent with national security, to know the details, to be able to evaluate whether those techniques really did produce important results. >> you have the former vice president saying he reads the memos one way. you have the current
administration and in fact, the former inspector general in his report, saying that the results were more ambiguous, or in fact were not determinative. that we don't know whether or not we could have gotten the same information from khalid sheikh mohammed, for instance, without using these techniques. >> well, i think to make a decision on who's right, you would have to know more of the details. you would have to know a lot more about what those interrogation techniques were to see how enhanced they were. that's a generalized word. but more personal, you would have to know what it produced. much of that material is necessarily classified. but we night structure a system, as you do in court, where you have what's called in-camera proceedings, where they're reviewed by an impartial body to make that evaluation, but to the extent, you could disclose that to the public, i think it would be very informative for the public to make its own judgment,
if that could be done consistent with national security. >> i've talked to former cia leaders who say you just can't make these adjustments in a vacuum. that there was a different situation right after 9/11. you know, what would you have done? would you have used a nicer means of interrogation on khalid sheikh mohammed if you were afraid that there was going to be another terror attack? is that context fair, or do you have to follow the law and follow treaties, the geneva conventions, in every instance? >> well, i think it's a matter of evaluating the totality of the circumstances. on its face, that statement has some merit in terms of what the pressures were at the moment. you have to take the totality of factors. president obama said early on that he wanted to turn the page, which i think is sensible. if there are violations of law,
that can't be countenance. but if people were conducting interrogations in a good faith way based upon legal advice, traditionally, if you act on a lawyer's advice, which is given in good faith and you make the good faith application of it, but i think that attorney general holder is proceeding properly but cautiously. let's review all the facts and see where they lead. >> do you have any concerns of a chilling effect on the cia, or perhaps that would be a good thing. do you think that they'll sort of retreat and take fewer risks and not keep us as safe? >> well, i do not think when you talk about chill, it's a good i think that the cia as a general matter operates in good faith and i think there are some violations, there are some investigations pending in the office of professional responsibility as to whether
some of the lawyers operated in good faith. these issues are all very fact derminitive and i think that we have to be cautious and determine the facts and again, to the extent that they can be made public, so there can be a public evaluation, if you shed light on the matter, light is the best disinfectant, wherever it can be done consistent with national security. >> arlen specter, thank you very much. >> glad to be with you, thank you. >> and coming up, will democrats bypass republicans and go it alone on health care? that debate continuing on ""andrea mitchell reports."" g cy in this small sidecar, but i've still got room for the internet. with my new netbook from at&t. with its built-in 3g network, it's ft and small, so it goes places other laptops can't. i'm bill kurtis, and wherever i go, i've got plenty of room for the internet. and the nation's fastest 3g network. gun it, mick.
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debbie let's talk first about whether the democrats should give up on this bipartisanship and go it alone. republicans are calling for seniors to rally against the plan saying they need a health care bill of rights. what michael steele said is that senior also pay a steeper price, they'll have their peopremiums reduced or rationed. how do you counter act and that should republicans do it themselves now? >> i absolutely think what michael steele is doing is in excusable. one has to take very seriously what you have hearing in the month of august. seniors are forified. they're scared to death they're going to be euthanized. we need to make sure they
understand what is in this bill and that this bill will make them better off and what michael steele did is inexcusable as far as i'm concerned. >> are you trying defend the -- >> not particularly? this is what opposition parties tend to do during debates like this, it's not much different than what we heard in terms of a tax against the bush social security reform plan four years ago, or the attacks we saw against the clinton health care plan back in the early '90s. but i suggest, rather than going it alone that going to the extremes of both parties. if you look at how far he has moved the debate, there's bipartisan consensus on a lot of people to move their insurance when they switch jobs, on getting coverage for preexisting conditions. he signed a reform package and people threw rose petals at his
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